Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suit Against Circus Owners Goes to Trial

Finally, a cruelty suit against Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is coming to trial.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture investigator determined the use of the bull hook “precipitated in the physical harm and ultimate death” of Benjamin, said Tracy Silverman, general counsel for the Animal Welfare Institute....The suit, also filed by The Fund for Animals, of Maryland; the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, of Washington; The Animal Protection Institute of Sacramento; and Tom Rider, a former Ringling Bros. employee, claims the defendants inhumanely and illegally mistreat their Asian elephants and have done so for decades.

On Monday, Federal Court Judge Emmet Sullivan will begin hearing testimony in the case. The anticipated three-week, non-jury trial takes place in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

According to the complaint, the defendants routinely beat elephants, violating the 1973 Endangered Species Act by hitting them with bull hooks. It also contends they forcibly remove baby elephants from their mothers with ropes and chains before they are weaned.

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